Covered in detail by Arstechnica this week, NFL officials plan on blocking the ability to watch live streaming video feeds on mobile devices that are connected to Wi-Fi or cellular connections within MetLife Stadium. While FOX will be streaming Super Bowl XLVIII for free on iPads or PCs this year, anyone attempting to access that feed within the stadium will be disappointed. According to Super Bowl officials, the ability to watch streaming video was allowed at the outset of last year’s Super Bowl, but was eventually blocked during the game due to bandwidth issues.
According to NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, up to 30,000 people within the 82,500-seat stadium will be able to utilize the Internet at any given time on cellular and Wi-Fi connections. Interestingly, upload speeds are being prioritized over download speeds in order to encourage more social sharing of game moments on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Based on usage patterns during other large sporting events, the highest traffic levels typically occur during key moments in the game as well as the moments after the game ends, even more pronounced if the end of the game is extremely suspenseful.
According to the NFL, the stadium’s Wi-Fi network includes 900 access points and is compatible with the 802.11ac standard. Powered by Cisco hardware, Verizon will be the Internet service provider for Super Bowl attendees. However, Verizon has remained silent on the average download and upload speeds that fans will experience during the game. The NFL will also be providing a mobile app for attendees that includes an event guide.
Regarding network stability, NFL officials have taken more steps to make sure the network stays up during the game. Explaining the difference, McKenna-Doyle stated “We cut the stadium into more sectors than we had in the past so we can pinpoint more quickly where issues are in a section of the stadium. If we start to hear we’re having issues in a certain part, we can work on a smaller segment of the stadium without it impacting as many people.”